Monday, April 11, 2011


April 10, 2011
You know, there are some things that drive me crazy about Peru. It's true, I'm sure I've written about it. But the longer I live here the more I realize that in some things they've really got the right perspective. I'll just tell you about it...
Here, where I am living, it doesn't matter what you wear. Stripes and plaid- go for it. Pink and red- totally acceptable. Shoes that don't match with your outfit- no big deal. Your hair doesn't need to be done, make-up doesn't need to be perfect. None of that matters to them. They look beyond all of that and see the person that you are. They want to know you. I mean, I go out with my hair piled all crazy on top of my head, running shorts and an old shirt on and guys still whistle at me. haha. Ok, not the best example, but seriously- it's not important here.
Beyond physical appearances there are houses. Most of the houses in my community are made out of scrap wood and are just one big room. Occasionally they will have maybe 2 rooms, but the majority don't. The kitchens are typically outside with some sort of roof over them- they consist of a wood stove and a table or two. Most people don't have a refrigerator or regular stove and a kitchen sink is pretty much unheard of. The bathrooms are smelly little shacks in the back, and showers are a wooden frame with some tarp around it. But again, it doesn't matter. What they have works for them. It functions and they are fine with it. Even though the houses are small, they are always full of people- family, neighbors, aquaintances. In the evenings it is very common to see neighbors relaxing at one another's house, just talking and enjoying life. There is no stress that the house may not be in perfect condition or that there might not be enough room for everyone. There is always enough room when you live in Peru. :)
A personal car is a luxury here- the majority of people don't have any sort of transportation. Public transportation is a thriving business here. It's not about who drives the nicest SUV or who has the fastest sports car. In fact, most people would probably not know what to do if they did have thier own car.
Lastly, I have grown to love how people take their time with things here. No matter what it is- they don't stress about meeting the next appointment, when church is going to be over, or when their friend is going to leave the house. Schedules are almost non exsistent. If you wanted to talk to a friend they would probably drop everything for you and talk as long as you needed. Granted, there are times when the lack of timeliness is annoying, but with other things it's just so much more relaxed if you aren't always stressing about the time. It's not important. Whatever happens, happens. And somehow, things always work out.
At home people stress about everything- the clothes they wear, the car they drive, the house they live in, the friends they have, the schedule they "must" follow... But, my question is why? Why stress? Do you gain something great from stressing about everything? Do you make better friends because your shirt has the words "Abercrombie and Fitch" written on the front? Are you better than your friend or coworker because you drive the nicest car around town? Does the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in your house put you in some sort of "best house" ranking? I DON'T THINK SO. I wish people at home could understand and experience how life is in the rest of the world. You have no idea how lucky and spoiled we are to live in the USA. I just want pepole to see that life is just NOT all about material things! I mean, really, if that's all life was about then what's the point? It's about people and relationships. It's about so much more than what you wear, what you drive, or where you live. It's about looking beyond all that stuff and caring about the people.
Now, here is my disclaimer- I'm not trying to come across that everyone and everything in the US is awful. In fact, I miss it a lot and I feel extremely lucky to live there. It's just that living here has helped me realize SO many things about life. You really have to experience something like this to completely understand where I'm coming from. It's ok to have nice things, but if that's all that matters to you then I'd suggest a step back and a litle change in perspective. Why do we care so much about material things when in the end none of it will matter? You aren't going to take that nice Mercedes to heaven. Your flat top stove and granite countertops aren't going either. I guess what I want to say is be thankful for what you have, reach out to others whenever you can, spend time with God everyday, and just take time to enjoy life. Everything just really isn't that important.
"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves creak in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
-Matthew 6:19-21

Thursday, April 7, 2011


*note to my faithful readers: sorry this is late. I was sure I had already posted it!! :)
March 4, 2011
This is an ode to my mom. "Because Nice Matters" is her favorite saying and the older I get the more I realize just how true and valuable that little piece of advice is.
One thing about people here is they have no shame about asking for money- especially if you are American (or any sort of white-looking). Sometimes that upsets me because i really don't want to be taken advantage of. I'm very willing to help, but sometimes the situations are tough. Well, today there was a mom who came in with her 2 girls. The mom told us that she didn't have enough money to buy uniforms for her girls and they were starting school on Monday. She told us that for the whole uniform (skirt, shirt, shoes, and socks) it was going to be more than 50 soles per girl. We were all shocked at that price, so we made a deal with her. We asked for the sizes of each girl and we told her that since we were going to Pucallpa that afternoon anyway then we would just look for uniforms and they could come pick them up on Sunday. In Pucallpa, with the help of our friend Wendy, we found uniforms for WAY cheaper than we thought it was going to be. We found a store where it was only 14 soles for the skirts, 4 for the shirts, 1.50 for the socks and 10-15 for the shoes. That means it was only 66 soles for both girls! That's only about 25 dollars. I was so excited to find everything they needed and at such a good price. I'm so glad we could help.
Our other "project" is our neighbors the Rivas-Rios kids... There are 6 of them in the family- Diana, Jack, Raquel, Abel, Valentin, and Luanna. Home life is anything but spectacular and they spend A LOT of time at the clinic. At times it feels like we are running a daycare instead of a clinic. Their clothes are always tattered and dirty, sometimes the youngest runs around without pants on... They have really grown attatched to the 3 of us girls and us to them as well. Even though sometimes it's irritating to have them around all the time, we can't help but love them. Their dad drinks a lot and usually they have no money to buy food because of that. Both parents are abusive to the kids, and dad is not too nice to mom... Like I siad, not a spectacular situation. Well, they needed notebooks and pencils for school and their mom didn't have any money to buy them what they needed. Lauren, Steph, and I decided that we would help them but only if they would help us. (We had to teach a little life lesson too because that doesn't happen from mom and dad). The deal was they had to come sweep the from room of the clinic everyday for a week and then we would buy them notebooks for school. They did a pretty good job, the brooms are still taller than most of them so we had to go behind them and sweep again; but the point was they were learning to work for their things. We went to town and bought them their things and when we took it to them they were SO excited. Diana, the oldest, almost started crying. It broke my heart. I was so happy that we could help. Diana has so much responsibility because she's the oldest and acts as the mom a lot of the time. I just want her to feel like a kid and feel taken care of and I think in that moment she felt cared for. Oh, I just love her.
Tonight we saw our friends Graciela and her daughter Valentina, and Gino. They work in Pucallpa selling handmade jewelry on the street. We met Gino in October and see him every now and then when we're in town. He's a really awesome guy. He has long hair and super cool earrings and he always wears traditional clothes and lots of jewelry. He's super down to earth and just so cool. haha. You really have to meet him to get it. Graciela is also a way cool lady. She was the one who did the "trenzas" (braids) that are in mine and Stephanie's hair. We see her every week or so when we're in town and just stop and chat with her. Her daughter Valentina is quite the character. She loves attention and is just silly. She is usually dirty and you can tell what she ate last because it's all over her face and clothes. But she is precious. Anyhow, tonight we invited them to come eat with us and we paid the bill for everyone. It was a fun dinner, just chill. The conversation and company were very pleasant and I think it made everyone's day a little bit better.
It's stuff like this that I am going to miss about Peru. Everyone keeps to themselves so much at home- I mean I can't say I've met any friends on the street corner and then met up with them for dinner. I guess that's something I've learned here and I want to practice more at home. It's so easy to talk to people here- and I really don't think it's any different at home. Someone just has to initiate it. I'm going to be that someone. I started trying to do that last year- just being really nice to cashiers, or striking up a conversation with the person in line wtih me, or just smiling at random people. It's fun to make peoples' days better. And I really think that is one of the best ways to show Jesus' love. People remember how you treat them. It's those little things that can make a huge difference in someone's life.
Because Nice MATTERS. Thanks, Mom. :)

Friday, April 1, 2011


March 29, 2011
(I hope that "unbelievable" is spelled right. haha it looks a little bit wrong. haha)
Oh wow. Today was literally one of my craziest days in Peru. I've probably said that about a lot of things, but what happened today really tops all. Let me start at the beginning.
A 17 year old girl came to the clinic this morning around 8. She was already having contractions and was 2 cm dilated. We had known about her before and had planned on having her give birth at the clinic. We are very careful about which births we accept here because of our lack of emergency equipment. She was a big, sturdy girl, so even though it was her first child we felt that she would be ok. The ultrasound that she brought showed that everything was ok with the baby as well. So, it was all good. The girl (we'll call her Maria) was sitting outside and between patients Cecilia would check on her and make sure everything was still going well. Around 2 o'clock her contractions were beginning to be stronger and faster so Lauren and I were timing them. At that point she was having nearly 1 contraction every minute. We had her laying down in the dental room so between contractions we quickly helped her move to the middle room in the clinic to our famous birthing chair. The water still had not broken so Cecilia decided to break it. Normally,when you break the water the liquid that exits is clearish in color. The liquid that exited now was green. That's BAD. Right then we decided that we had to take her to the hospital because the risk of complications was too high to have her deliver in the clinic. Of course, here in Peru there is no such thing as calling an ambulance so I went running out to find a motocar. Steph gathered all of the items we would need and we helped her out to the motocar. Maria, her neighbor, Steph, and I piled into the motocar and sped off (as fast as we could on our terrible road). I think it was the LONGEST motocar ride of my life and I can't even imagine what it was like for Maria. The minutes felt like hours and it seemed like all the traffic was getting in our way. I was praying the entire time that everything would be ok and that this baby would not be born in the motocar. While we were driving Maria, of course, was in extreme amounts of pain seeing as though she was 9 cm dilated and we were driving on the worst road in Peru. When we were about a block away from the hospital the head started coming out. Quickly, I took off my shirt (I had 2 tank tops on) and got ready to deliver this baby in the motocar. Goodness- it still seems so unreal!! Anyway, as we were pulling into the driveway of the hospital I was supporting the head as it came out. It got stuck so I had to reach down and spread her to allow the head to come the rest of the way. Then when it did the cord was wrapped around the neck. I was able to quickly unwrap it and Steph was there to help with the rest of the body. We set the baby on top of mom and started drying him off with my shirt. The crazy thing was that he was crying right when he came out. We hadn't suctioned him or anything obviously, and he was crying! I was so happy! All my fears melted away and I had this assurance that everything was going to be ok. As we were continued to dry him the hospital staff finally came out to help. Someone came over with a clamp and scissors and that's when i realized that the cord had broken on it's own! Also a bad thing. They whisked the baby inside and I helped move Maria over to a stretcher so they could take her inside. After that my gaze fell to Maria's neighbor who had tears streaming down her face. I went over and gave her a hug and told her everything was going to be ok. Then a nurse came out and escorted Steph and I inside to wash our blood covered hands. The baby was crying and he was a bit blue, but he was ok! The only bummer was that they threw my shirt in the biohazard trash. :( That was a little sad, I was going to wash it and keep it for a souvenir. haha It was one of my favorite shirts. Oh well, I guess it was retired to a good cause. The rest of the story I am choosing to leave out to protect Maria's privacy. But I can tell you that both she and the baby are ok and now I can say I delivered a child in a motocar. Unbelievable.


march 28, 2011
Wow. I can't believe it. I only have 33 days left in Peru. That's just crazy to think about. I've been living here since August and I'm almost done. It's a bittersweet feeling to be honest. I wish I had my journal from the first few weeks that I was here so that I could compare that to where I am now. Unfortunately, those stupid pirates took it. Ugh, that still makes me mad.
Anyhow, we had yet another birth this morning. Mom was 20 years old and this was child number 2. She came in around 10:30 and was only dilated like 3 cm. I decided to go to bed because I knew it would be a while till anything was going to happen. Cecilia woke me up at 5:35 and said that she was almost ready. At 6:30 we welcomed a little baby girl into the world. She was so precious and a big girl! 3.8 kilos and 51 cm long! Also, for this birth I got to deliver the placenta. That was a new experience for me because I'm normally the baby handler. It was super cool, well I mean it was cool if you like this sort of thing. haha :) I think I'm going to be very frustrated when I go back to clinicals next year and they won't let me do anything. Maybe I can pull the "I lived in Peru and delivered like 7 babies" card. haha
On another note, I've been thinking about going home and this summer and how I'm going to feel when I get home. As excited as I am about it, I'm almost scared at the same time... I can't wait for May 3 when I walk off the plane and get to see my mom and give her a hug for the first time in 9 months. And then I get to hug my dad for the first time since December. I'm SOOOO excited. I just remember in January when I didn't think I was going to make it. I was seriously considering going home. As rough as that first part of January was I'm so glad I stayed and stuck it out. I would have missed out on so much. This year has changed me in so many ways and taught me so many things. Sometimes I'm afraid I won't "fit" at home anymore... I just hope that I can bring something home that other people will notice in me and be an inspiration to others. I don't regret my decision about coming this year, I don't regret anything that's happened. If this experience has taught me one thing, it's that everything does happen for a reason. I really think that everyone should do something like this in their life. It's amazing.